Section 5: Directions as to action plans
32.This section amends the 1996 Act by inserting new sections 41A and 41B into that Act. These new sections provide an alternative mechanism to the power to give directions in section 40 of the 1996 Act (as substituted by section 4 of this Act) for the Secretary of State to intervene to require remedial measures to be taken to address poor performance in a force. The intervention power in new section 41A may be used instead of, or as well as, the power of direction in revised section 40.
33.Section 41A(1) to (3) empower the Secretary of State to require a police authority to submit an action plan setting out the remedial measures that the authority proposes to take to address those aspects of the force’s performance which has been judged by HMIC to be inefficient or ineffective (or will become so unless such measures are taken). A police authority will have between four and twelve weeks to submit an action plan (section 41A(10)). Where so directed by the Secretary of State the police authority must, in turn, direct the chief officer to prepare a draft of the action plan (section 41A(4)). The police authority may submit the action plan to the Secretary of State with or without modifications, but where the authority proposes to make changes to the draft of the plan prepared by the chief officer it must first consult him about the proposed modifications (section 41A(5) and (6)). It is open to the Secretary of State to comment on the action plan submitted to him where he considers that the remedial measures contained therein are inadequate (section 41A(7)). The police authority must consider the Secretary of State’s comments but it is a matter for them, in consultation with the chief officer, whether to amend the action plan (section 41A(8)).
34.An action plan must set out the steps the police authority proposes to take to address the matters identified in the adverse HMIC report. The direction may require the inclusion of performance targets and timescales for implementation. It may also require periodic progress reports to be sent to the Secretary of State (section 41A(11)). Section 41A(12) specifically limits the Secretary of State’s and police authority’s power of direction by providing that they cannot require action in relation to particular cases or individuals.
35.New section 41B sets out the same procedural safeguards in relation to the exercise by the Secretary of State of his powers to give directions as to action plans as are contained in revised section 40(3) to (9) regarding directions to police authorities (described in paragraph 31 above).